had realized there was no convincing Shay that her person-
ality had changed. To Shay, her new attitude was simply the
result of growing up, moving on, leaving all the overheated
emotions of ugliness behind.
“You weren’t always this way, Shay,” David said.
“No, I used to be ugly.”
Maddy smiled gently. “These pills won’t change the way
you look. They’ll only affect your brain, undoing what Dr.
Cable did to the way your mind works. Then you can
decide for yourself how you want to look.”
“Decide? After you’ve messed with my brain?”
“Shay!” Tally said, forgetting her promise to remain
silent. “We’re not the ones messing with your brain!”
“Tally,” David said softly.
the one who’s crazy.” Shay’s voice took
on the tone of her daily round of complaining. “Not you
guys, who live in a broken-down building on the edge of a
dead city, slowly turning into freaks when you could be
beautiful. Yeah, I’m crazy all right . . . for trying to help you!”
Tally sat back and crossed her arms, silenced by Shay’s
words. Whenever they had this conversation, reality
became a little unhinged, as if she and the other New
Smokies might really be the insane ones. It felt like Tally’s
horrible first days in the Smoke, when she hadn’t known
whose side she was on.
“How are you helping us, Shay?” Maddy asked calmly.
“I’m trying to get you to understand.”
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“Just like you did when Dr. Cable used to bring you by
Shay’s eyes narrowed, confusion clouding her face, as if
her memories of the underground prison didn’t fit in with
the rest of her pretty worldview.
“I know Dr. C was horrible to you,” she said. “The
Specials are psychos—just look at them. But that doesn’t
mean you have to spend your whole lives running away.
That’s what I’m saying. Once you turn, Specials won’t mess
“Because you won’t make trouble anymore.”
“Because you’ll be
!” Shay took a couple of deep
breaths, and her usual calm returned. She smiled, beautiful
again. “Like me.”
Maddy picked up the pills on the table in front of her.
“You won’t take these willingly?”
“No way. You said they’re not even safe.”
“I said there was a small chance something could go
Shay laughed. “You
think I’m nuts. And even if
those pills work, look what they’re supposed to do. From
what I can tell, ‘cured’ means being a jealous, self-important,
whiny little ugly-brain. It means thinking you’ve got all the
answers.” She crossed her arms. “In a lot of ways, you and
Dr. Cable are alike. You’re both convinced you’ve personally
got to change the world. Well, I don’t need that. And I don’t
“Okay, then.” Maddy picked up the pills and put them
in her pocket. “That’s all I have to say.”
“What do you mean?” Tally asked.
David squeezed her hand. “That’s all we can do, Tally.”
“What? You said we could cure her.”
Maddy shook her head. “Only if she wants to be cured.
These are experimental, Tally. We can’t give them to some-
one against her will. Not when we don’t know if they’ll
“But her mind . . . she’s got the lesions!”
“Hello,” Shay called. “
is sitting right here.”
“Sorry, Shay,” Maddy said mildly. “Tally?”
Maddy pulled aside the Mylar barrier, stepping out
onto what the New Smokies called the balcony. It was really
just part of the top floor of the building, where the roof had
entirely collapsed, leaving sweeping views of the ruins.
Tally followed. Behind her, Shay was already talking
about what was for dinner. David came out a moment later.
“So, we give her the pills secretly, right?” Tally whispered.
“No,” Maddy said firmly. “We can’t. I’m not going to do
medical experiments on unwilling subjects.”
“Medical experiments?” Tally swallowed.
David took her hand. “You can’t know for sure how
something like this will work. It’s only a one-percent chance,
but it could screw up her brain forever.”
“It’s already screwed up.”
“But she’s happy, Tally.” David shook his head. “And she
can make decisions for herself.”
Tally pulled her hand away, staring out over the city. A
sparkler was already showing on the tall spire, uglies come
to gossip and trade. “Why did we even have to ask?
didn’t get her permission when they did this to her!”
“That’s the difference between us and them,” Maddy
said. “After Az and I found out what the operation really
meant, we realized we’d been party to something horrible.
People had had their minds changed without their knowl-
edge. As doctors, we took an ancient oath never to do any-
thing like that.”
Tally looked into Maddy’s face. “But if you weren’t
going to help Shay, why did you bother finding a cure?”
“If we knew the treatment would work safely, then we
could give it to Shay and see how she felt about it later. But
to test it, we need a willing subject.”
“Where are we ever going to find one? Anyone who’s
pretty is going to say no.”
“Maybe for right now, Tally. But if we keep making
inroads into the city, we might find a pretty who wants out.”
“She’s not crazy,” Maddy said. “Her arguments make
sense, in fact. She’s happy as she is, and doesn’t want to take
a deadly risk.”
“But she’s not really herself. We
to change her back.”
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“Az died because someone thought like that,” Maddy
David put his arm around her. “My father . . .” He
cleared his throat, and Tally waited in silence. Finally he
would tell her how Az had died.
He took a slow breath before continuing. “Dr. Cable
wanted to turn them all, but she was worried that Mom and
Dad might talk about the brain lesions, even after the
operation, because they’d been focused on them for so
long.” David’s voice trembled, but it was soft and careful, as
if he didn’t dare put any emotion into the words. “Dr. Cable
was already working on ways to change memories, a way of
erasing the Smoke forever from people’s minds. When they
took my father for the operation, he never came back.”
“That’s awful,” Tally whispered. She gathered him into
“Az was the victim of a medical experiment, Tally,”
Maddy said. “I can’t do the same thing to Shay. Otherwise,
she’d be right about me and Dr. Cable.”
“But Shay ran away. She didn’t want to become pretty.”
“She doesn’t want to be experimented on, either.”
Tally closed her eyes. Through the Mylar shade, she could
hear Shay telling Ryde about the hairbrush she’d made. For
days she’d proudly shown the little brush, made of splinters
of wood shoved into a lump of clay, to anyone who would
listen. As if it were the most important thing she’d ever done.
They had risked everything to rescue her. But they had
nothing to show for it. Shay would never be the same.
And it was all Tally’s fault. She’d come to the Smoke,
and had brought the Specials, leaving Shay an empty-
headed pretty, and Az dead.
She took a deep breath. “Okay, you’ve got a willing
“What do you mean, Tally?”
“What?” David said.
“Your taking the pills won’t prove anything, Tally,”
Maddy said. “You don’t have the lesions.”
“But I will have them. I’ll go back to the city and get
caught, and Dr. Cable will give me the operation. In a few
weeks, you come and get me. Give me the cure. You’ve got
The three of them stood there in silence. The words had
poured out of Tally of their own accord. She could hardly
believe she’d uttered them.
“Tally . . .” David shook his head. “That’s crazy.”
“It’s not crazy. You need a willing subject. Someone who
they become pretty that they want to be cured,
experimental or not. It’s the only way.”
“You can’t give yourself up!” David cried.
Tally turned toward Maddy. “You said you’re ninety-
nine percent sure these pills will work, right?”
“Yes. But the one percent could leave you a vegetable,
“One percent? Compared to breaking into Special
Circumstances, that’s a breeze.”
“Tally, stop it.” David took her shoulders. “It’s too dan-
“Dangerous? David, you can get across into New Pretty
Town no problem. City uglies do it all the time. Just grab
me out of my mansion and stick me on a board. I’ll come
with you, just like Shay did. Then you cure me.”
“What if the Specials decide to change your memory?
Like they did my father’s?”
“They won’t,” Maddy said.
David stared at his mother in surprise.
“They didn’t bother with Shay. She remembers the
Smoke just fine. Az and I were the only ones they were wor-
ried about. Because we’d been focused on the brain lesions
for half our lives, they figured we’d never shut up about
them, even as pretties.”
“Mom!” David cried. “Tally’s not going anywhere.”
“And besides,” Maddy continued, “Dr. Cable wouldn’t
do anything to hurt Tally.”
“Stop talking like this is going to happen!”
Tally looked into Maddy’s eyes. The woman nodded.
“David,” Tally said. “I have to do this.”
“Because of Shay. It’s the only way that Maddy will cure
“You don’t have to save Shay,” David said slowly and
evenly. “You’ve done enough for her. You followed her to
the Smoke, rescued her from Special Circumstances!”
“Yeah, I’ve done a lot for her.” Tally took a breath. “I’m
the reason she’s like this, pretty and brainless.”
David shook his head. “What are you talking about?”
She turned to him, taking his hand. “David, I didn’t come
to the Smoke just to make sure Shay was okay. I came to bring
her back to the city.” She sighed. “I came to betray her.”
Tally had imagined telling her secret to David so many
times, rehearsing this speech to herself almost every night,
that she could hardly believe this wasn’t just another night-
mare in which the truth was forced from her. But as the
reality of the moment sank in, she found the words spilling
out in a torrent.
“I was a spy for Dr. Cable. That’s how I knew where
Special Circumstances was. That’s why the Specials came to
the Smoke. I brought a tracker with me, “
“You’re not making any sense,” David said. “You fought
when they came. You escaped. You helped rescue my
mother . . .”
“I’d changed my mind. And I never meant to activate the
tracker, honestly. I wanted to live in the Smoke. But the night
before the invasion, after I found out about the lesions . . .”
She closed her eyes. “After we kissed, I accidentally set it off.”
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